A federal appeals court threw out the $15 million settlement of a lawsuit accusing Boeing of discriminating against about 15,000 black employees. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco objected to the $4 million in legal fees and the large disparity in the payments provided to the employees. The 1999 settlement covered two class-action suits that accused the world's biggest maker of passenger jets of discriminating against blacks when it came to promotions and retaliating against them when they complained.

Security Questions Unanswered

Allowing airline passengers quicker trips through airport security if they undergo background checks would help reduce waiting times, the General Accounting Office concluded. But the GAO's report said the federal government would have to decide what kind of information passengers should provide and what exemptions from security regulations they would receive. Without answers to those questions, the GAO said, it could not determine whether such a program would enhance or weaken airport security. A spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration said it has no money for a test program.

MORE NEWS

A former Enron lawyer pleaded guilty to failing to report $79,000 he pocketed from one of the energy firm's secretive partnerships. Lawrence Lawyer, a former attorney in Enron's Broadband Services unit, will cooperate with federal authorities as part of a plea deal. Lawyer will repay the money, his attorney said.

Cigna HealthCare has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit by health care providers and doctors alleging the insurance giant underpaid them by the way it processed claims. As part of the agreement, which must be approved by a federal court, Cigna HealthCare said it will revise some practices and procedures, so doctors will find it easier to do business with the company. The division's parent, Philadelphia-based Cigna, said it will take an after-tax charge in the fourth quarter of $50 million to $65 million to pay for the settlement, which could involve thousands of doctors.

Genuity, a data-network operator that defaulted on $3 billion in loans, will seek bankruptcy protection and plans to sell most of its assets to rival Level 3 Communications for $240 million, Bloomberg News reported, citing unidentified sources. Genuity defaulted after Verizon chose not to buy back a stake in the company. GTE sold Genuity to win regulatory approval of its merger with Bell Atlantic, creating Verizon.

Qwest shareholders were unable to convince a judge to freeze the assets of former chief executive Joseph P. Nacchio and founder Philip F. Anschutz. A federal judge said the shareholders failed to prove that Nacchio or Anschutz would try to hide assets. The shareholders claim that Nacchio, Anschutz and others misled investors about Qwest's financial condition and artific- ially inflated the stock price. The company, whose accounting practices are under federal investigation, has said it overstated revenue in 2000 and 2001 and is restating $1.56 billion in earnings.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac raised the limit on the size of single-family home mortgages they buy from banks by 7.3 percent to $322,700, effective Jan. 1.

United Airlines machinists are to vote today on whether to accept $1.5 billion in annual wage concessions to help the airline avert bankruptcy. The cuts are a key component of United's application for a $1.8 billion federal loan guarantee. United has a $375 million bond payment due Monday.

El Paso's credit rating on $25 billion of debt was cut to junk status by Moody's Investors Service on concern that the company will have to sell assets to make up for a cash shortfall as it gets out of the energy-trading business.

Many McDonald's customers will be able to pay for their food with credit and debit cards beginning next year. As many as 25 percent of McDonald's 13,300 U.S. restaurants will accept the cards by mid-2003.

INTERNATIONAL

European Union governments failed to agree on rules for an EU-wide patent. EU ministers were unable to resolve their differences over what languages to use when filing applications and how much power to give national patent offices.

EARNINGS

Williams Industries, a Manassas-based heavy construction firm, said it earned $62,000 (2 cents per share) on revenue of $14.9 million in its fiscal first quarter ended Oct. 31. Williams earned $528,000 (15 cents) on revenue of $13.2 million in the comparable period last year. Williams said its manufacturing segment, which makes bridge girders and metal forms used in highway construction, benefited from increased government spending. But construction revenue increased only slightly and Williams sales and services segment revenue fell 29 percent from a year earlier.

Vivendi Universal said its loss widened in the third quarter to $1.23 billion, from $960 million a year earlier. The French media conglomerate also said its debt fell in the third quarter to $18.6 billion, from $18.8 billion at the end of June, and predicted that the figure would fall to $13.9 billion by the end of the year.

RECALLS

Nissan Motor recalled about 185,000 of its 2001 and 2002 Frontier pickup trucks and Xterra sport-utility vehicles. About 5,000 Frontiers and Xterras from the 2002 model year were recalled because the engine-control system can choke off power under full acceleration in low temperatures. Nissan recalled 143,000 four-wheel-drive Frontiers and Xterras from the 2001 model year because water can enter the rear axle through a poorly sealed anti-lock brake sensor, causing a wheel bearing to rust and potentially break.

EARNINGS

Williams Industries, a Manassas-based heavy construction firm, said it earned $62,000 (2 cents per share) on revenue of $14.9 million in its fiscal first quarter. Williams earned $528,000 (15 cents) on revenue of $13.2 million in the year-earlier period. Williams said its manufacturing unit, which makes bridge girders used in highway construction, benefited from increased government spending.

Vivendi Universal said its loss widened in the third quarter to $1.23 billion, from $960 million a year earlier. The French media conglomerate also said its debt fell in the third quarter to $18.6 billion, from $18.8 billion at the end of June, and predicted that the figure would fall to $13.9 billion by the end of the year.

Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers

Safety advocates issued their annual warnings about dangerous toys. At left, in Trenton, the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group focused on a stuffed bear whose eyes can come off and a toy computer that emits a loud noise. At right, Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Harold D. Stratton holds a toy airplane distributed by Spin Master Toys. The toy was recalled because its air-intake chamber can burst.